James Muldoon, written by nephew, George Delaney
James Muldoon, who proudly lived four decades of his adult life at the crest of Codman Hill Avenue, Dorchester, was born in Ballyshannon, Donegal, Ireland in 1890. Unmarried, and having become a U.S. citizen in 1913, he registered for Selective Service on June 5, 1917; then, at the age of 28, enlisted in the United States Army on April 26, 1918. He was dark in complexion, stood 5’ 8” tall and had brown hair and brown eyes. His civilian occupation was that of a freight clerk.
In service to his adopted country, he was in uniform for only 14 months, but in that short time, judging from the battles, engagements, skirmishes and expeditions he participated in, he accumulated a lifetime of both experiences and memories, likely both good and bad. As a soldier in the American Expeditionary Force, he was in the Meuse-Argonne offensive northwest of Verdun from September 26 to November 11, 1918, when the guns finally fell silent, but only after four years of carnage. Notably, he was attached to the 4th Army Corps commencing on September 12, 1918. While his discharge papers do not confirm his military occupation, he disclosed years later to his nephew that he was a medic. Insignia on his dough boy helmet confirm his AEF status, assignment to the 4th Army Corps and the 303 Field Hospital; the helmet also displays a red cross. After the Armistice, he logged his progress across Germany on a map which has been passed down through his family, it notes for example, that he left Trier on December 16, 1918. A panoramic photo taken by the Pyle Photo company of Waltham, Massachusetts documents the arrival of the U.S.S. Calamares at Boston on June 13, 1919, with hundreds of returning and relaxed soldiers splayed across the decks.
Undoubtedly, James was one of those soldiers. James joined the Boston Police Department (BPD) thereafter, and married Nora Cunningham on October 16, 1927, at St. Lawrence Church in Brookline. Nora’s naturalization certificate indicates they were living at 370 Bowdoin Street in Fields Corner 1928. By 1930, they lived at 32 Codman Hill Avenue, where they stayed until his death. His service to the BPD ended on March 1, 1948, at the age of 58. While on the job, he was mentioned in newspapers at least twice. James is pictured in an article entitled, “How the New Two-Way System Works – Prowl Cars Can Call Police Station as well as Receive Warning of Trouble,” (up to that time a one-way radio was in use by many police departments). James was shown outside Division 9 with eight other officers under the notation, “the day shift of Patrol Squad.” James’s rural Irish roots undoubtedly helped him when a bull calf fell off a truck going through Dorchester and was found wandering on Blue Hill Avenue. The calf is shown “nuzzling Officer James Muldoon’s hand as gently as the fictional Ferdinand.” The nickname fellow officers penned him with, was “Hunky Dory Muldoon,” a likely insight into his disposition.
James and his wife, Nora, who had no children of their own, were ever gracious hosts in their two-family home, especially to rambunctious nieces and a nephew. He was a faithful husband and provider and a man of few words. He never owned a car, and with Nora, walked weekly to St. Gregory’s Church on Dorchester Avenue. He instilled a love of the Red Sox culture to his visitors and listened faithfully to the play by play from Fenway Park. In his later years, James, with his shock of thick white hair, could often be seen walking down Washington Street in Codman Square or picking up the bus in front of the Girls’ Latin school. He eschewed the portrayal of police officers played on television on shows such a M Squad, starring Lee Marvin. James, six months shy of his 70th birthday, passed away of a heart attack in October, 1960, sadly missing by a month, the election of the first Irish Catholic President of the United States. Family lore informs us that James was gassed during the World War and this likely accounts for what seems an early retirement from the BPD. Indeed, upon his death in 1960, his wife was granted a disability pension. Artifacts from his military service: helmets, gas mask, haversack, maps, postcards and photos will all be donated to the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC) in Carlisle, PA, next to the U.S. Army War College, where they will be respectfully preserved and/or displayed for future generations of researchers and history lovers. Readers with like items are encouraged to do the same, as the USAHEC is not legally allowed to solicit such artifacts. (717-245-3972; www.USAHEC.org).
George F. Delaney, Jr., Mechanicsburg, Pa. 17055-3907
James was my uncle. I was born to Centre Street and lived on Lyndhurst thereafter. I graduated from St Marks, BC High and BC. My profession took me away from Dot in 1970, but I visit regularly and have two daughters who live near Boston.
Documents in possession of George F. Delaney
Boston. City Council Record granting Nora Muldoon an annuity;
Letter of condolence to Mrs. Muldoon from Congressman John McCormack;
Naturalization certificates for James Muldoon and for Nora Muldoon;
Photos of Muldoon in army uniform and in police uniform later in life;
Registration certificate card 1917;
Selective Service Card 1945
US Census 1930, 1940 on Ancestry.com